A Study on Students' Affective Factors in Junior High School English Teaching

By Zhu, Biyi; Zhou, Yaping | English Language Teaching, July 2012 | Go to article overview

A Study on Students' Affective Factors in Junior High School English Teaching


Zhu, Biyi, Zhou, Yaping, English Language Teaching


Abstract

Affect is considered as aspects of emotion, feeling, mood or attitude which condition behaviors in second language acquisition. Positive affect is good for studying while negative affect will inevitably hinder learners' learning process. As we know, students in junior high school are special groups as they are experiencing great changes both in physiology and psychology. Their affect can be easily influenced by external and internal factors. Therefore, it is of vital importance to pay close attention to students' affective factors in English learning process, particularly to the negative ones. Based on the results of the previous research about affects in second language acquisition, the study finds that junior high school students have the following negative affective factors such as boredom, anxiety, hopelessness, inhibition and low self-confidence in their English learning. Then some suggestions for cultivating and improving students' affect are put forward in the hope of improving junior high school English teaching and learning.

Keywords: affective factor, junior high school, English teaching and learning

1. Introduction

Nowadays with the development of humanism, great importance is attached to the learners' non-intelligence factors. Humanistic educators advocate the importance of affect and the core position of learners. The function of the affect in language learning process has become a heated research topic in second language acquisition. Although educators and researchers have conducted a large number of studies to find out the relationship between language learning and the learners' affect, those studies are mostly done among the university students and little attention is paid to the junior high school students. For decades, Chinese teachers in junior high school have used the traditional way, the teacher-centered approach, in the teaching of a foreign language. In class, teachers appear as controllers, who are in complete charge of the class. They try to put everything into students' heads and students are seen as receptacles to be filled with knowledge. In this process, what teachers care most is how to improve students' marks on tests. Students' affect is generally ignored by teachers. What negative affect do junior high school students have? How can teachers apply humanistic approaches to English teaching to help students form positive affect? In order to address the above questions, we conducted a study to analyze the affective factors that students in junior high school have. After analyzing these factors, we put forward the suggestions to improve students' affect in junior high school English teaching.

2. Literature Review

Affect is the expression of one's inner world and attitude toward a certain thing, situation or experience. In language study, affect is one's attitude, emotion, feeling and mood. The affective factors include motivation, self-esteem, self-confidence, self image and empathy, etc. Stern (1983) indicates that the function of affect has the equivalent position of that of cognition. According to Arnold (1999), affect is composed of feelings, attitudes and motivations which will influence the process and result of language learning. Gardner et al (2004) also state that affective factors have some influence on language acquisition and achievement.

Attitude plays an important role in language learning process. A learner's attitude to the learning language will impact the learner outside the classroom. The study done by Burden (2004) showed that a positive attitude would motivate learners to achieve their learning goals. Stern (1983) stated that three components constituted attitude. The first is cognitive component, which means the belief to a certain aim. The second is affective component, which means likes and dislikes about an aim. The third is conation component, which means someone's intention and action about a certain aim. In English learning process, if a student is eager to learn a foreign language, this positive attitude is helpful for his study. …

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